August 24, 2010 § Leave a comment
On Monday, August 24, 2010, we discussed Lesson Four: Purity in the Obscure (Meandering, Modesty, and Meekness.) First we briefly went over the text discussing that we are truly NOT our own, but bought with a price.
We spent much time on meandering and discussed that our minds and our time are valuable assets, that our desires should not dictate our behavior, and we should not keep company with those that are idle, talebearers, or meddlers.
This does not mean that we ignore people who do, but that we limit our exposure to them. When we do this, many find it offensive and say that we are acting like we are too good for them. The truth is that we are not good enough.
Knowing that our own sinful nature and how easily we fall into sin, we need to know that associating with those that meander, those that are talebearers or gossips, and others that meddle will result in our participation in the same behavior.
I’ve often said that I don’t need any help sinning, I do just fine in that area all by myself. We all have our own issues. If we spend time meandering and not realizing our time is a valuable asset and must be managed just like our money, we will fall into sin more often than not. Limiting our exposure to these behaviors, reduces the temptation to us join in it.
It is very much like someone who has a contagious sickness. I used the example of ‘Pink Eye’ but it could be any sickness (a cold, the flu, etc.) We need to limit our association with these people until that have recovered from the sickness.
This is why God tells us to flee from those who are caught up in it. This does not mean that these people are bad, it just means they are a danger to us while they continue in what we know we shouldn’t do.
God is so good, isn’t He? Just like we as parents instruct our children to stay away from troublemakers, God instructs us to do the same.
On the subject of modesty, we broadened the field from simple clothing to behavior and motives. Of course, we spoke of clothing. And as a general rule, if you are going for attention-getting wardrobe, then you will certainly get it. Dressing in a way that is flashy or eye-catching diverts attention from God to you. And is that what we truly want?
Women can dress appropriately and still be immodest. How? By being loud and flashy, like the woman in Proverbs 7, by flirting and flattering as we discussed last week, by not developing a sense of graciousness – these are the behaviors that reveal to the world the motives in our heart. All of them are look-at-me behaviors and in no way glorifies God.
This moved us to the subject of meekness. I regret that the class ran a little long so we didn’t spend much time on this topic. We did review and read all the verses in the ‘Pursuing the Word’ section, specifically Isaiah 66:2. What we found there was the secret of God paying close attention to our prayers. That secret is to be of a ‘poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at God’s word.’
Meandering, modesty, and meekness are obscure topics. These are not generally taught with a focus on pursuing purity. But, these are major areas in our lives that, if we follow after God’s instruction, we will know God in a deeper way.
August 5, 2010 § 1 Comment
“Clarity of mind means clarity of passion, too this is why a great and clear mind
loves ardently and sees distinctly what it loves.”
– Blaise Pascal
“A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself:
but the simple pass on, and are punished.
– Proverbs 22:3
Lesson Five: Purity in the Oblivious
(Authority, Appearance, and Appetite)
This week our study focuses on authority, appearance and appetites. These are areas that many women are oblivious. To be oblivious is to be not mindful, not conscious, and often unaware. In essence, this obliviousness is lack of knowledge
The topic of authority is not only seen as offensive but often destructive to women who adhere to feminism. A feminist attitude does not respect the biblical authority given to us in God’s word. These women are oblivious to the impact of their actions to their marriages, their homes, and most importantly, to their fellowship with God.
While no woman wants to earn less or be treated unfairly in the workplace or the home, women with knowledge of true biblical authority are far more confident whether they are treated fairly or not.
If you searched for the definition of feminism, you find this statement: ‘A movement for granting women political, social, and economic equality with men.’ What woman would not want to be a part of this movement? After all, if a woman desires a career, should she not want the treatment as her male counterparts? Of course she should, but that does not violate what God instructs her to do.
Pursuing purity in all areas of our lives means following God not just at Church but also at home and in our workplaces. The power of God’s word is not subject to any rule or regulation a government can put forth. Being oblivious to true biblical authority and disregarding it in our appearance and appetites is a foolish choice.
Have you served on a committee at your Church, participated in a community group, or become part of a book club or some other group with others that share your interest or hobby? If so, you were one member in a group of members with one purpose. You and other members gather together to take part in fellowship or work toward a common goal. Each member of your group, committee or organization is an individual with no one person being considered better or more important than the other.
In order for your group to accomplish your goals, your group needs a leader. The leader is granted authority and responsibility for the purpose and goals of the group.
Authority is the power or right to give orders or make decisions. In the home, God granted authority to men. He did not grant this authority to women. Many women disagree with this concept because they think it devalues a woman, it somehow makes a woman less important than a man.
Women who are oblivious to, ignorant of or rebellious against this authority are separating themselves from fellowship with God.
“For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness,
and going about to establish their own righteousness,
have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”
– Romans 10:3
Granting authority to the husband in a home doesn’t devalue women, it frees them. Just as in the example of the committee, if a mistake is made or the purpose is not realized, the responsible person is the leader. The members are not in charge and therefore are not accountable. It is the same in marriage. The husband is ultimately responsible for the family.
We cannot disobey God because we do not like what we read in the bible. To pursue purity is to first become aware of what authority is and whose authority we are under and then make conscious changes in our lives to submit to that authority.
“God does not give kingdom authority to rebels.
And a person who cannot obey God is not going to be used of God.
God cannot trust him with kingdom authority.”
– Adrian Rogers
Imagine this. On your way home from running errands, you encounter a young man or woman standing in the middle of the street with their right arm palm upward extended to you. This person is young and dressed in blue jeans and a tee-shirt. They are blowing a whistle and commanding you to stop.
This young person now turns toward another motorist and motions them to proceed. When the person prompts you to proceed, you continue on your way, slightly confused. You do not recognize this person as having any authority to direct traffic. What you see is a teenager or very young adult acting as if he had authority to command you to obey.
But if you encounter the same young-looking person in a police officer’s uniform, you instantly recognize the authority. You are aware of the authority by the uniform they are wearing. Disobedience to this authority can bring severe consequences to you.
Disobedience to God’s authority can also bring consequences. Women, who disobey God and the authority He has established in a home, whether in defiance or in ignorance, add sorrow to their lives.
“Every wise woman buildeth her house:
but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.”
– Proverbs 14:1
The Audience of your Appearance
As in the example of the police officer directing traffic, our appearance plays a large part in how others perceive us. Just as the young-looking person commanding you to obey on a public road left you confused because their behavior and their attire did not agree, we often do the same.
Many women walk out their days totally unaware of the impact of their clothing, their attitude, and their behavior has on those they encounter. In order to pursuing purity, we need to recognize that we cannot walk in ignorance in the area of appearance. If there is one area of a woman’s life she needs to be mindful of, it is the area of appearance.
“The great and important duty which is incumbent on Christians,
is to guard against all appearance of evil; to watch against
the first risings in the heart to evil; and to have a guard upon our actions,
that they may not be sinful, or so much as seem to be so.”
– George Whitefield
Appearance is the outward or visible aspect of a person. It is the outward signs or indications by which a person or thing is assessed. In job interviews we know that first impressions are everything. We pay special attention to how we appear on our first date with someone, to career networking events, or when we meet people we admire or respect.
On ordinary days, what do we wear and how do we appear? Does our behavior impact another to drive their thoughts of us as Christians to honor God? Or, do we dress and behave in ways we find appealing or sexy. We cannot overlook this area in a pursuit of purity. Christians are representatives of the One we follow. Our appearance, our attitude, and our behavior should reflect and honor God. Otherwise, we convey confusing messages.
In Isaiah Chapter 3, God is purifying the people and gives a very descriptive reason why. As I read this chapter, what immediately came to mind was a fashion show runway. In verse 16, God addresses their behavior.
“Moreover the LORD saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty,
and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes,
walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet..”
– Isaiah 3:16
Reading on in Chapter 3 of Isaiah, God addresses their seductive clothing and accessories and reveals the consequences of such appearance.
“Therefore the LORD will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the LORD will discover their secret parts. In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls, and their round tires like the moon, The chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers, The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings, The rings, and nose jewels, The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins, The glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the vails. And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; and burning instead of beauty.” – Isaiah 3:17-24
These woman might have said they were oblivious or unaware of the impact of their behavior and appearance, but being unaware is no excuse. God knows the deepest part of our hearts.
“Don’t excuse yourself by saying, “Look, we didn’t know.”
For God understands all hearts, and He sees you.
He who guards your soul knows you knew.
He will repay all people as their actions deserve.”
– Proverbs 24:12
Probably the most troubling thing about dressing seductively is the sin it prompts in others. There are some men who will lust without provocation from a woman. That is between them and God. However, if we dress in a way that prompts sexual thoughts in a man, we are as responsible as the women identified in Isaiah 3.
Purifying our Appetite
You might think this section centers on food. It does in part, but, just like biblical purity is not limited to only sexual purity, our appetites are not limited to food and drink alone. While it is always wise to live a balanced healthy life, Jesus revealed what truly corrupts us. It is not what we take into our mouth, but what comes out.
“Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear.
“Listen,” He said, “and try to understand. It’s not what goes into your mouth
that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.” – Matthew 15:10-11
With all the books and programs available to us to help us lose our added inches, it never ceases to amaze me that the simple law of restricting intake works 100% of the time. It works for the health conscious and it works for the Christian.
As we look at purifying our appetites with new awareness that we are not defiled by the amount of food we take into our bodies but by the sin we exposure ourselves to, we now understand the source of our slander, our gossip, our envy, and pride. The source is too much of the world’s influence on us and not enough of healthy spiritual nourishment which only comes from reading God’s word.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), antidepressants are the most prescribed drug in the United States. Between 1995 and 2002, the most recent year for which statistics are available, the use of these drugs rose 48 percent.
Could it be that the exposure to all things ungodly in this world contributed to people losing hope? If we continue to expose ourselves to music, radio, television, books, and/or conversations that in no way glorify God, we are left with no hope. We begin to think on the things of this world, we become overwhelmed with the wickedness we see and without a healthy dose of God’s word to cleanse our thinking, we begin to despair.
“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”
– Proverbs 4:23
As we wrap up this lesson, we learn that to be oblivious to authority, appearances, and appetites can result in a loss of close fellowship with God. We may not see these issues as important, but pursuing purity means to disregard what we think when we encounter God’s word on the matter.
Pursuing the Word:
God is a God of order. For order to be established there must be authority. Read the verses below a note the authority that is mentioned.
- I Corinthians 11:3
- I Corinthians 11:8-9
- Ephesians 5:22
- Hebrews 13:7
- Hebrews 13:17
- Matthew 18:17
In Work and Government
- Romans 13:1
- I Peter 2:13
- Ephesians 6:5
Our appearance (behavior and clothing) can have far reaching affects in prompting others to sin. The bible refers to an immoral woman as ‘strange.’ Read the verses below and discover the answers.
- James 1:15 – What is the end result of dressing sexy?
- Ecclesiastes 7:26 – What is more bitter than dying?
- Proverbs 23:27 – What is worse than falling into a pit?
- Proverbs 5:3-4 – What is worse than poison?
God gives us great joy when we discover for ourselves His word and His promises. Read the verses below and note the promises God offers when we focus our appetites on Him.
- Proverbs 2:1
- Isaiah 26:3
- Isaiah 65:24
Pursuing the Walk:
We’ve learned that the authority granted to men does not mean women are not as good or not as important. What are your thoughts regarding authority? Write them below.
If we dress or behave in such a way as to cause another to stumble, we are as guilty as the one who sinned. Do you need to do a wardrobe or attitude check-up? List your notes below.
Pursuing purity means must guard our hearts and our appetites. Ask God to show you the music, radio, television, and books that are influencing you in a negative way. List your thoughts below on meekness.
Write out how your concept of authority, appearance and appetites has changed while preparing and participating in this lesson.